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Officials offer caution against West Nile

Posted: August 28, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: August 28, 2012 2:00 a.m.
 

After Texas and several other Southern states saw West Nile virus outbreaks this week, health officials Monday are cautioning local residents to be careful.

The Greater Los Angeles County district, which includes the Santa Clarita Valley, has only seen one human case of the virus this year, said Cynthia Miller, public information officer for the Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control.

There were two reported cases of the disease in mosquitos found in Newhall back in June, according to officials.

The county is well below its five-year average, but people still should be wary of the disease, Miller cautioned.

There are 41 cases of the disease statewide and four recent cases in Los Angeles County. The San Fernando Valley is where most cases have been reported in Southern California.

The majority of West Nile virus cases have been found in Northern California, with 22 cases within the Central Valley.

There have been no cases of human or bird infections in the Santa Clarita Valley region, but with its close proximity to the San Fernando Valley, West Nile virus cases could appear, Miller said.

Humans are infected with the West Nile virus through mosquito bites, with mosquitoes being infected by birds holding the disease.

But humans are “dead-end hosts,” where they cannot transmit the disease to others, Miller said.

The current summer heat has some bearing on the number of infected mosquitoes.

“High temperatures speed up the mosquito’s life cycle and can turn mosquito eggs into biting adults in as few as five days,” Miller said.

Raymond Baker, manager for Clark Pest Control in Santa Clarita, has not noticed an increase of mosquitoes in the area, but wants customers and residents to be educated about the disease.

“We get (calls), but there’s maybe 1-2 calls a year,” said Raymond Baker, manager of Clark Pest Control in Santa Clarita.

“They’re easy enough for residents to handle on their own.”

Baker and Miller advised residents to follow the three D’s to prevent mosquito bites and infections.

People should wear repellant containing DEET at all times and wear loose-fitting clothing.

Any standing water should be drained and dumped out, for mosquitoes spawn in these areas.

“People would never think that mosquitoes can breed in such small amounts of water,” said Miller, adding that they can lay their eggs in puddles of water as small as a sprinkler head.

Residents should avoid doing outdoor activities during dusk and dawn, for mosquitoes are most active during this time.

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